In his first game in charge since replacing Aaron Callaghan who departed earlier in the week, Athlone Town caretaker manager Terry Butler tasted defeat.
Galway United were the visitors last Friday night (May 4 ) and Shane Keegan was the happier boss as his team recorded a first away win in the league this season.
The visitors were on the attack from the start and earned their first corner kick within a minute of the contest starting. The corner count eventually hit double figures for Keegan’s men.
The first home chance fell to Craig Shortt, but his long range attempt on goal flew wide. Midway through the half, Galway’s Stephen Kenny had a shot pushed behind at his near post by Mick Fogarty. The Town keeper also saved from Marc Ludden. Athlone’s Brian Cabraley then had a shot blocked, with Shane Stokes following up with an attempt that was saved.
The deadlock was finally broken seven minutes from the half-time break following a corner kick. Ryan Connolly had initially set up Carlton Ubaezuonu, whose shot was brilliantly pushed behind by Fogarty. The respite was brief as from Kenny’s corner flag delivery Eoin McCormack headed goal home from the far post. Athlone attempted to clear the ball but the match officials adjudged that the ball had crossed the line and a goal was awarded.
Galway had further chances to increase their lead just before the break, but Kenny and McCormack both missed their chance.
The first chance following the resumption of play fell to the home team, but Shortt fired over. Team mate Shane Stokes was also off target as Athlone responded in positive fashion.
Galway, though, should have doubled their lead when a mix up in the home defence allowed Connolly in. Jake O’Connor did well to block the shot.
The second goal arrived just before the hour mark when Ludden found the net. Connolly, on the left, played in the full-back, who swept the ball past the keeper at his near post.
Athlone failed to mount a serious challenge after going two down. To add to their woes, three players were forced off through injury during the 90 minutes. Cabraley joined first half retirees Cormac Raftery and Steve Grogan in the treatment room.
Ubaezuonu had another opportunity after 65 minutes, but Fogarty punched clear. Athlone’s best chance of reducing the deficit came moments later when Shortt had a shot blocked, with Stokes blasting the rebound over the bar.
The victory was sealed after 78 minutes when Kenny took advantage of sloppy defending to score. The woodwork then came to Athlone’s rescue when Ubaezuonu fired against the post.
Galway eased off in the closing stages but still had little difficulty in ensuring their first away league win. Butler can be under no illusions about the task facing him as he looks to put more points on the board for his team.
Athlone have another home game at the weekend when they entertain Drogheda United.